Authorities are searching after an alligator dragged a two-year-old boy into the water at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort near Orlando, Florida, around 9:15 p.m. ET Tuesday. The boy, along with his his parents and four-year-old sister, were reportedly on vacation from Nebraska when the horrific incident took place. During a news conference four hours into the search early Wednesday morning, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that the family was alongside the water when the attack happened. The child was "wading just in the water along the lake's edge at the time that the alligator attacked," Demings said.
The alligator is reportedly between four and seven feet long. When it snatched the boy and dragged him into the water, his father jumped into the lagoon and tried to wrestle the toddler from the gator's mouth. The boy's mother also jumped into the man-made lake to help her son, but both parents were unsuccessful in rescuing their child. With the toddler in its mouth, the alligator retreated into the water.
"The sad reality of it is it's been several hours and we're not likely going to recover a live body," Demings said.
The water, known as Seven Seas Lagoon, spans 200 acres and is located next to Bay Lake, which is a natural body of water also on the Disney Resort. Demings said that more than 50 law enforcement officials were searching the Seven Seas Lagoon. Helicopters, sonar, marine units, and an alligator trapper were also employed in the search and rescue effort.
At 3 a.m. ET, the boy's condition remained unknown, but Demings said he was "going to hope for the best,” adding, “These circumstances, based upon my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know we have some challenges ahead.”
The attack happened in an area of the Seven Seas Lagoon where “no swimming” signs were posted. A Disney spokeswoman, Jacquee Wahaler, told The Washington Post that visitors are advised of the signs, but she didn't say whether or not Disney staff was aware of alligators' presence at the resort.
“We’re not leaving until we recover the child,” Demings said.